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How to manage difficult teachers: Advice for learning support assistants

Written by Paul Dix

Working in a classroom with a teacher who is failing to meet the needs of the students presents a range of challenges and frustrations for the LSA. Even when the status and authority of the class teacher is challenged and the balance of power shifts, there are strategies you can employ to protect yourself and the students working with you and to improve the situation. If you want to engage teachers in a productive discussion about classroom management skills, the principles we use to encourage positive responses and appropriate behaviour from the students can be applied. With your language, attitude and approach tailored to the recipient and your ‘egg shell walking’ skills honed you can make progress with even the most awkward of characters!

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Register here.10 practical steps to encourage the Class Teacher to address behaviour management issues:

  1. Ask for advice, help, training – even if you don’t particularly need it yourself or think they have much to teach you, you are encouraging the class teacher to reflect on their own knowledge of the subject.
  2. List strategies that work with particularly challenging students. These might be strategies that you use or ones that colleagues find useful; send them to the class teacher for feedback.
  3. Leave some behaviour management texts/resources lying around, ‘Oh, there is a chapter here that might help us with Kylie’.
  4. Ask if you can help design and manage a positive behaviour display.
  5. Offer to help monitor certain pupils over the course of 6 lessons using a ‘class report’ format, make sure this is sent to the class teacher and line manager .
  6. Catch the class behaving appropriately and publicly reinforce this with the students, ‘I just wanted to say how pleased we are with the students in this area of the classroom today’.
  7. Stand at the door of the room, welcoming the students as they enter (with or without the teacher), modeling a positive approach at all times.
  8. Catch individual students doing the right thing and ask the class teacher to join in with praise and positive reinforcement.
  9. Photograph some of the trickiest characters and display their angelic faces to remind everyone that behind the age inappropriate behaviour there is a child.
  10. Sign them up for our free tips service on

© Paul Dix


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